boat flooring options

Boat Flooring Options

Written by Boatsetter Team
September 21, 2021

Boats can be built from wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber, aluminum, and steel. There are even boats made of concrete.

The flooring (referred to as decks by the salty crowd) in every boat is different. However, every type of flooring on any vessel needs to be durable and non-skid. It also needs to be able to hold up to being constantly subjected to sun and water.

Unless it is the flooring below decks (inside the boat) and protected from the weather. Here you can use wood, vinyl flooring, linoleum, tile, plush carpet, and other quality flooring materials to cover your decks.

What types of boat flooring can I put in my boat?

Replacing old boat flooring can be a do-it-yourself project when using some materials for flooring. Other materials, however, may require someone skilled in the art of wood, steel, or aluminum to update or replace your boat’s flooring.

There are five common types of boat flooring. Some boats have only one type of flooring, while others may have two, three, or even all five types of material covering their floors.

The following are examples of different flooring materials you can use to cover the flooring of your boat.

1. What woods are used for boat flooring?

wood boat flooring

The traditional material for boat hulls is wood. The wood used for topside decking, cockpit floors, and floors in the cabin can be costly. The woods used for boat flooring must be able to stand up to years of a wet, humid atmosphere. These wood options include:

  • Oak parquet
  • Cedar
  • Oak
  • Ash
  • Teak
  • Mahogany
  • Spruce
  • Fir
  • Marine-grade plywood


All of these woods run to the expensive side. Therefore, any error when installing wood can be costly. Unless you are very handy with tools and know your way around how a boat is constructed, installing wood flooring on a boat should be left up to professionals.

2. Is canvas used for boat flooring?

The odds of you seeing a boat with canvas on any portion of its flooring are remote. That is unless you have an interest in classical boats.

Canvas was commonly used as a flooring (decking) material for the upper decks of wooden boats pre 1960. And boat builders still use canvas to cover the decks of older boats for those who want them to maintain their authenticity.

Owners of old boats that have been built in this manner will remove the canvas and seal the decks with epoxy. Sealing a wooden boat in epoxy can protect the wood longer than paint, whether the vessel is new or 70 years old.

The application of epoxy to a wooden boat includes applying it to the flooring above and below decks. Encapsulating wood in epoxy will seal it and protect it from the elements for decades.

3. What are Specialty marine finishes?

Specialty marine finishes are paints, sealers, varnishes, and epoxies that have been developed for the marine industry. Formulated to fend off the harsh conditions of life on the water, they will keep your boat protected for years.

Acrylic marine paints have been developed that are easy to apply, hold up quite well, and are available in many colors. In addition, you have the choice of gloss, semi-gloss, satin finishes, and non-skid finishes. Easier to use than traditional oil-based paints, they offer easy clean-up and are much more forgiving, too.

The floor outside of your boat needs to have a finish that is not slick when wet. Non-skid finishes are essential for your safety and that of your boat’s occupants, and there’s a specialty finish for that. Paint kits that include making boat-flooring skid resistant are another viable option when you want new boat flooring.

Exterior painted surfaces will protect your boat from five to seven years before you must do it again. However, painting a boat is labor-intensive, and some finishes, including water-based acrylic marine paints, require application by a professional. So now you’re talking real money.

4. What is marine vinyl flooring?

With attributes you won’t find in household flooring, marine vinyl flooring is made to hold up to the elements and has a non-skid finish. In addition, it is tough, durable, and comes in many colors so that matching your boat’s color scheme is no problem.

Marine-grade vinyl flooring can be used on outside areas of your boat and down below. It is easy to clean with a brush and soapy water, so whether above or below, keeping your boat shipshape is easy with marine vinyl flooring.

Marine vinyl flooring will maintain its color, provide traction, and remain resistant to water for seven to ten years. This durability gives marine vinyl more longevity than a professional paint job or marine carpeting, both of which will last five to seven years if properly maintained.

5. What type of carpet is best for boats?

The best type of carpet for boats is a carpet designed for the wet environment where boats reside. Indoor/outdoor carpet is made from polypropylene, naturally resistant to water and fading from UV exposure.

This difference between one marine carpet and another is the weight of the carpet material and whether it has been treated to resist mold and mildew. Untreated carpet can begin to mold very quickly once subjected to water. 

Therefore, it will shorten the useful life of your boat flooring.

Marine carpeting is the most straightforward do-it-yourself project when replacing boat flooring. Except for vinyl marine flooring, the other materials listed here are much more time-consuming to install than laying carpet. It comes down to how much you want to spend and what appearance you want when you replace your boat’s flooring.

What is the cheapest option for flooring?

Marine carpet is the least expensive option for boat flooring. Due to its ease of installation, you may be able to do it yourself, which lowers the cost of boat flooring replacement. However, labor is expensive, and if you don’t need to hire any, you can save money by installing marine carpet on your boat.

If you take the time to keep it clean and prevent it from getting moldy, it will last as long as the other listed boat floorings. When you combine that attribute with a lower price per square foot than that of even paint and its longevity, carpet is the value winner for boat flooring replacement.

Owning a boat is expensive – need some help?

The maintenance of boat flooring, painting, engine maintenance, fuel, and everything that goes along with owning a boat is costly. So often, your boat will sit neglected because you can’t find time to use it, and a boat unused will go downhill pretty fast.

Would you like a way for your boat to help pay for its expenses? As well as an opportunity to be paid to get out onto the water in your boat?

Well, you can when you list your boat with Boatsetter. We offer a marketplace that lists your boat for rent around your local waterways or some exotic locale. You will have the option of renting your boat alone or adding your services as captain of your ship.

Our expansive fleet of boat owners rent their sailboats, fishing boats, cabin cruisers, houseboats, and luxury yachts. Boats to rent are available at locations across the United States, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and beyond. You and your boat could join this expanding fleet and help defray the ever-rising cost of boat ownership.

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